Thursday 1 April 2010

Clarks Quaker Shoemakers - Embroidered Turnshoes

In October we looked at some Clarks' shoes of the late 18th century. But the Clark family have traded since the mid 17th century in Strete. (So-called because it is on a causeway specially constructed to carry quarried stone above the marshy Somerset Levels for the building of Glastonbury Cathedral.) In the beginning, Cyrus Clark sold sheepskin rugs, boots and woollen slippers. James, his brother joined him later and together they began making shoes. Today the company is still C & J Clarks.
Both these pairs of shoes date from approximately the same time - 1760 - and both are what is known as turnshoes - shoes that were constructed inside out and then turned the right way just before finishing. This first pair of ruby satin shoes are embroidered in silver thread, and you can clearly see here that the thread is wrapped round a silk core which is left behind as the the metal corrodes and disintegrates. Likewise the metal thread which held the spangles in place is virtually all lost.

In contrast to the first pair, this second pair in black satin seem a lighter more modern shoe with fresh sprigs of heartsease and periwinkle-like flowers stitched in worsted or crewel wool.

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